Even in Washington, D.C., a place infamous for exorbitant spending, the so-called rescue bill House Democrats recently approved is an abomination.
Earlier this month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or HEROES Act. Senate Republicans have said it is dead on arrival — and for good reason.
Start with the price — a staggering $3 trillion. For context, the federal government is projected to collect $3.7 trillion in taxes this fiscal year. Pre-coronavirus, the annual budget deficit approached $1 trillion. This year it will be much higher because Congress has already passed four other coronavirus relief bills at a cumulative cost of $2.4 trillion.
The HEROES Act isn’t a serious proposal. It’s a laundry list of liberal goals and pet projects. Start with repealing the limit Republicans imposed on state and local tax deductions as part of their tax reform bill in 2017. That cap led to wealthy people in blue states paying higher taxes because they couldn’t deduct the full amount they paid in state income and property taxes. Democrats have worked tirelessly to repeal this limit. Turns out they’re just fine with tax cuts for the rich — who live in blue states. That giveaway — unrelated to the coronavirus — would reduce federal revenues by $136 billion.
The bill would also give most Americans, including children, a $1,200 check, for a maximum of $6,000 a household. That would cost $413 billion. The feds just got finished mailing out similar checks as part of a previous virus relief package. Can we see how that works before proceeding with more? This is a vote-buying dry run for a universal basic income program favored by many progressives.
Then there’s the $25 billion to bail out the U.S. Postal Service. And an extension until January of the $600-per-week increase in unemployment insurance. Aside from the cost, that supplement is paying many people more not to work than to return to their previous employers. That’s a disincentive for the economic recovery the nation so desperately needs.
In addition, there’s around $200 billion for renters and homeowners. The bill would prevent most evictions and foreclosures for a year. How thousands of landlords would survive is apparently irrelevant. The bill also contains a provision for the government to pay off each borrower’s student loans through September 2021, up to $10,000 per person. There’s a requirement that states implement early voting, as if this is vital when responding to a pandemic.
The act is more than 1,800 pages.
Finally, the bill also includes $1 trillion to help state and local governments, which are no doubt struggling mightily because of cratering tax revenues. But many of the fiscal problems facing state and local governments are of their own making. The need to reform exorbitant pension systems has been obvious for decades.
The coronavirus crisis isn’t a time for grandstanding. Unfortunately, that seems to have been Speaker Pelosi’s primary goal in putting forth this boondoggle.